You can find the simple pleasures of the nation’s most lively party street or be humbled by unique religious treasures. Explore nature, art, science and culture in ways you would never have imagined.
Our list of the 10 best attractions in Pattaya is just a sample of the amazing variety you can find in the area.
These are the absolute must-see features which every itinerary for every visitor should include. Many of the items on our list are unique in Thailand while some are unequalled in the entire world.
#1. Sanctuary of Truth
This one-of-a-kind teak structure is a truly awe-inspiring sanctuary to a philosophical truth, which tells of the importance religion, philosophy and art has played in human development and the folly of neglecting morality and spiritual contentment in the pursuit of materialism. It is a beautiful and humbling demonstration of human endeavour and skill, particularly when you realise that none of the wood being used has been treated or chemically protected. This means that, as one section is completed, another has succumbed to the tropical conditions and must be replaced.
#2. Nong Nooch Tropical Garden
The 2.4sq.kms of Nong Nooch are full to bursting with some of the most remarkable flowers, displays and landscaped gardens in Thailand, if not the world. The team behind them have repeatedly won international awards for their designs, which include 17th-century-French-style gardens, a recreation of Stonehenge, creative topiary displays and gardens created exclusively with cacti, bonsais and tropical palms. It is also the home of over 670 native and hybrid species of orchid and regular displays of classic Thai dancing, boxing and drumming.
#3. Pattaya Floating Market
Correctly known as the “Four Regions Floating Market”, the sub-sections of this 100,000sqm development represent the four major areas of Thailand – the north, northeast, central and south. This representation comes in the form of shops and stalls selling souvenirs, fruits, food, art, handicrafts, postcards and clothing as well as regular cultural shows and demonstrations. Some of the 114 vendors do indeed float, selling their wares from traditional boats and canoes. The rest are built into a sturdy stilted village, with covered walkways and stout bridges connecting them.
#4. Wat Phra Khao Yai (“Big Buddha Hill”)
The so-called “Big Buddha” certainly deserves its name, being the biggest in the region at 18 metres in height. Positioned nearly 100 metres above sea level, it watches over Pattaya and Jomtien Beaches from its position on the hill dividing the two. The temple complex around the highly detailed golden seated Buddha creates a reflective mood in its many visitors thanks to its many bells, burning incense, numerous smaller statues and impressive views over the area. Not just tourist attraction, the site is an active temple, with locals frequently visiting to pray.
#5. Water Parks
Pattaya is home to a choice of outstanding water parks, including the largest in all of Thailand, with dozens of slides and rides between them. The biggest and best, including Ramayana Water Park and Cartoon Network Amazone Waterpark, are located just about 20 minutes away from Pattaya City. Each park has on-site restaurants and a range of helpful facilities for families.
#6. Pattaya View Point
Khao Pattaya View Point on Pratumnak Hill is the best viewpoint in the region and the place to visit day or night to get that classic shot of Pattaya’s sweeping, crescent bay. Be warned though, this is anything but an insider’s tip so expect to share your view with an almost ceaseless conveyor-belt of package tours and the local traders who follow them touting cheap souvenirs and expensive refreshments. This might sound off-putting but the reality is tours will usually stop for 10 to 15 minutes and once they have been called back to the bus, the view point becomes quiet and peaceful – perfect for enjoying the stunning scenery.
#7. Koh Larn
If told to imagine a cerulean blue sea and a long stretch of pristine beach void of high-rise buildings and away from the claws of civilization, Pattaya would probably be the last place to conjure up in your mind’s eye. Well, that would be the case until you’ve discovered Koh Larn (Larn Island), a little piece of paradise beyond the hustle and bustle of Pattaya… Also known as Coral Island, Koh Larn – situated 7.5 kilometres west of Pattaya Beach – has long been an alternative retreat for those who have become jaded with Pattaya’s overdeveloped and overcrowded beaches. Since the island is not so far away, visitors can easily go there in the morning, stay for a couple of hours and then come back to Pattaya Beach late afternoon.
#8. Art in Paradise
Art in Paradise takes the traditional assumptions of what an art gallery should be and completely ignores them. Instead, the art is brought to life and the visitors can become part of it through the use of optical illusions and playing with perspective. Stand in the right position and take a picture from the right angle – all of which are clearly marked out for you – and it looks like you are flying a magic carpet in the desert, crossing a rickety bridge in the jungle, swimming with dolphins in the ocean or putting the finishing touches to famous masterpieces.
#9. Ripley’s Believe It Or Not
Ripley’s Believe It or Not! contains over 300 exhibits which will boggle the mind. Telling only true stories and facts, the surprising and shocking displays prove that the truth really is stranger than fiction. Alongside this museum of the marvellous are several fun rides, a waxworks museum, a 12D Moving Theatre and the extremely popular Sky Rider – the yellow and white balloon which can be seen rising above Pattaya Beach, offering unique views of the city and the surrounding area.
#10. Buddha Mountain (Khao Chi Chan)
The largest engraving of Buddha in the world, the gold-embossed image was carved out of the side of a limestone mountain with a laser and is 130 metres in height and 70 metres across at its widest. The area in which it resides – commonly known as “Silverlake” – is one of remarkable natural beauty, with a couple of other nearby attractions.